Review by Erastes
Andrew Wyndham takes a post as tutor to the son of the weathly Duncan Stewart at the mysterious and beautiful mansion “Seacliff” surrounded by rugged seas and mysterious fogs. Mysteries and scandal follow in traditional gothic fashion.
It’s not going to be a surprise to anyone that I enjoyed this book. First it’s an American gay gothic with a fab innovative cover. I was positively drooling when I got the book in my hands and excited when I opened it.
If you are looking for an erotic romance, then you’ll be dissapointed by TMOS, but if you want a solid, multi-layered mystery chock full of quirky characters, death and over-arching gothic D00M, red-herrings and a surprise denouement, then you’ll like this as much as I did. (Oh and a lovely romance too…)
From the outset, the plot is familiar to those who have already read books such as Jane Eyre and Gaywyck. Young and innocent (not-quite-yet-aware-of-his-sexuality) Andrew gets a job as tutor to Stewart and we can already see where the story is going. However Pierce isn’t going to let us off that lightly and he throws so many obstacles in our protagonists way that you begin to wonder if they are ever going to get together.
It’s a refreshing change to see so many secondary characters; Pierce doesn’t stint with them, and each one is fully rounded, different and has his or her own story to tell. Also, in the tradition of the Golden Age of Agatha Christie, nearly every single one has a motive in the dark secret that overhangs the house of Seacliff. There are flashes of Rebecca here, with an obsessed and creepy faithful retainer, touches of Jane Eyre but never so much so to annoy, it was always its own story.
I was impressed also, as to the many threads of the mystery that were woven together, one after another until I was thoroughly convinced of the guilt of the person that everyone else thought it was. Bravo, Mr Pierce. There’s nothing I like more it’s being led by the nose to the throroughly wrong conclusion!
Andrew might be young, but he’s not a shrinking and fainting heroine type. He’s a little sensitive; he tends to hug-a-lot, and he cries from time to time but he can stand his own ground too, which was something I appreciated. He has a lot to stand up against, too, as Duncan is a difficult, prickly (and very hairy!) man and he tries to push Andrew away more than once. I liked Duncan’s persistence and his wanting to do the right thing, even when he had the opportunity to get away from a frankly difficult and dangerous position.
There’s the inevitable OK Homo, I’m afraid, not only that, you begin to wonder if anyone in the world is straight at one point – but that didn’t spoil this book when the same thing had spoiled other books for me. In this twisted, remote and decadent world that Pierce paints it doesn’t seem unusual and the reasoning behind the homosexual relationships are believable.
The editing wasn’t 100 percent, as there were a few typo’s I spotted (lightening instead of lightning for example), which is a shame. It’s also a shame that this book is under the Howarth’s Harrington Press imprint – so its future is in the balance. If you want a copy, particularly with the delicious double cover than another printer might not go for – I’d advise you get one now, while it’s still available and still reasonably priced. You won’t regret it, as if you enjoy a really good gothic romance with all the trimmings – perfect for curling up with on a foggy night – then you’ll love this. I certainly did.
P.S Please watch out for MAX PIERCE’S author interview which will be posted in the New Year, believe me, you are not going to want to miss that.